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Wait a Minute – Does My Active Toddler Have ADHD?

To say that my two and a half year-old son Ryeson is an active toddler is definitely an understatement. Ever since he was able to turn over, we would look away for a second and he would be on the other side of the room. Then he learned how to army crawl, and he didn’t even like crawling on all limbs because that slowed him down. As soon as he was able to walk at 11 months, he ran. He ran everywhere! At two and a half we still struggle to chase him anytime we want him to do something that he calls, “yucky.” He thinks it’s funny to run away from us and yucky stuff, like changing his diaper or going inside when he wants to stay outside. Never a dull moment!

Because of his cystic fibrosis and having to be extra careful about germs, he wasn’t able to go to daycare as an infant. So we had a nanny up until recently. Currently, he’s in school two days a week. Our nanny comes a few days a week, and he goes to my mom’s once a week. Starting midsummer, he will be going to school five days a week.

My Active Toddler in School

A few weeks ago, I stopped by the principal’s office to discuss dates for my son starting school full-time. She casually mentioned that Rye is having a hard time focusing in school; that he’s super smart, but has a hard time staying on task without wanting to run around the room.

My first question was, “Is this normal, are other kids like this, or just mine?” She said that he definitely has more energy than the rest the kids, which is causing a slight distraction at school. But she gave me no indication that it was a huge issue within the classroom. That made me feel a lot better, because no one wants to hear that their kid is causing problems in class.

Collaboration with Teachers

Later that day, I talked to one of his teachers, who also made me feel better about the situation. Apparently, he has trouble focusing after he wakes up from his nap. The other kids take 90-minute long naps, but Rye only takes 45 minutes to an hour. So they’re working to have him engage in quiet activities while he’s awake and the other kids are sleeping. However, my active toddler doesn’t do anything quietly, which has become an issue during this time. If he’s supposed to quietly read a book, he sings it out loud at the top of his lungs. And if he doesn’t know the words, then he makes them up.

Having a heart-to-heart with his teacher truly helped. I asked her about the strategies she’s using to help the situation. She mentioned that they’re working with him to acknowledge quiet time. I told her I would also help at home by having quiet time right after he wakes up from his nap (right now, we just jump right into the next activity). I also made sure to let her know I want the process to be a collaboration. Any issues that arise aren’t up to to the school to fix. Rather, my husband and I will work with the school to address this matter. I informed her that at Rye’s previous daycare, I wasn’t told about something that could’ve been fixed. Therefore, I want to make sure to help combat any issues from both school and at home.

Talking to my Active Toddler’s Doctor

I discussed this issue with Ryeson’s ongoing pediatric doctor at Kaiser. She reassured me that he is a typical toddler. He shouldn’t be forced to stay focused on any academic activity for too long. “That’s not what toddlers do.”  She reiterated that ADHD is not an issue until they’re in first grade or older. Any, “warning signs of ADHD are not seen until they are older.” When older kids cannot focus or concentrate on solving problems is when kids are typically diagnosed. For toddlers, they all have different temperaments and are all learning about their environment. Which simply means some toddlers are more active than others. And I just happen to have a very active toddler who’s very curious about life.

I’m so happy to be in an environment where I am able to collaborate. Where it is okay discuss all the options for my active toddler with his school, my friends, and his doctor(s). It definitely helps to have others on this journey along with me. Because as we all know, parents are just making it up as we go. Thankfully, when you have a good support system it makes things a little easier.

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